An Interview With Realma
Realma just dropped a pop ballad that touches on retro, jazz, and comes with massive film noir overtones.
"Wandering" feels like atching a murder mystery love scene filmed in a dark rainy alley somewhere.
The track boasts clarinets, piano, and layers of textured sounds that come together to create an outstanding piece of work.
The track gets you hooked and engulfs you as it takes you into her world and her story , fictional or not, it's empowering and incredibly cinematic.
Like a film, the song builds into a massive climax and you get surrounded by the artist's passionately performed vocals and washed away with the song's tonality and feel.
This really is like nothing you've quite heard before and it's outlandishly refreshing.
It's a noir pop song and if that's not a thing. It is now because of Realma.
Realma has a history of releasing ethereal dream pop music and accompanying them with colorful and vibrant videos that speak as loud as the music does most of the time.
She has a natural sense of contemporary pop song writing and works her own unique style into everything she does.
"Wandering" is no exception to this rule.
Impassioned and firy, the song takes you on quite a little journey before returning you to reality once again.
The single is released now and the video is on it's way and with such a powerhouse of complex and outside the box songwriting, we had to talk with realma to see where this kind of thing comes from.
TSWS: Okay so let's start with "Wandering". This track has such a lush and beautiful sound! Where did this song come from?
Interestingly, the initial version of 'Wandering' was supposed to be just a standard love ballad for a songwriting assessment during a short course I did at PointBlank in London. At that period, we were supposed to write 3 songs and as I was also studying for a full-time degree in drama and film, I had very little time to spend on it. The lyrics at that time were somewhat hollow sweet nothings and pillow talks. However, as I ended up liking the theme, I revisited the material more recently. This time around, when I repeated the lyrics more and more at the piano, I noticed this borderline cynical quality in the words. I tried to mimic the newly-discovered bitter irony by playing some dissonant jazzy chords and arrived on this film noir mood, the genre where I ultimately ended up situating the whole song into. It really gave it a heart, and may I say a broken, theatrical one at that! To explore this dark edge even more, I really poured into it some things I recalled my friends and family members experienced in some relationships that really went south. These tales were transformed into recitation and being a drama/film graduate, I could really draw inspiration from my passion for stage/cinema. And now in this final version, I believe the song delves deep into the psychology behind obsessive/abusive relationships.
TSWS: I'm hearing some wonderful styles on this track. Who are some artists that really influenced you?
Whenever I compose I don't actually have any direct influences until much later, or at least once I have the basic outline of the song. Initially I just follow the themes/harmonies instinctively and see where they take me. Now once I entered the production phase, I wanted to research the genre of film noir and started looking at tracks that might feel similar. In terms of film noir itself, having studied classical music my whole life, I looked at the orchestration by the 20th-century composer Bernard Herrmann and his well-known soundtracks for Hitchock films like Vertigo and Psycho - these are absolutely clever and stunning scores. In addition to that, being a fan of video games, I also drew inspiration from the soundtrack of L.A. Noir, which is really jazz-based. On the other hand, the mood of the song also reminded me of Hooverphonic's Mad About You and Portishead's Glory Box in particular and I loved the use of the violins in both tracks. But more than simply emulating these sources, I really wanted to make them my own and so I believe 'Wandering' features some very unique elements like the use of the bass clarinet and upright bass duets, as well as some experimental uses of vibraphone and harp in certain sections. With all that said, I think ultimately 'Wandering' finds a unique balance between grounding itself in the bygone classicism of film noir, while also expressing some modern whimsy and charm.
TSWS: So, how did all of this actually start for you?
I actually had no plans to go into the music industry, but acting instead, haha. I had plans to do an MA for acting in the UK, however, with the pandemic everything changed as I had to return back to my home country. Upon my arrival, unfortunately, I experienced a horrible police mishandling, where my life was put in danger, which really broke me and I suffered from complex PTSD for a long time since. This was when I rediscovered music as a powerful way to escape my current circumstances and dream of different realms - hence Realma being a pun on that. And so, with each song I'll be delving into new genres and new visual expressions of the music with the team of artists I'm collaborating with.
TSWS: I have to say I loved your video for "A Hint of Pink". THe animation was awesome! Will we see another video from you soon?
I'm really glad you enjoyed it and the overall positive reaction I've received from people who have seen it means a lot. We are actually in the working to create a comic saga from A Hint of Pink's storyworld, as well as a mini video game if things go well. As for another music video - yes! In fact, the animated music video for 'Wandering' goes a step further into 3D and it will be released on 11th June:
It is what we call 'our hot-blooded love letter' to the classic noir tales, while the style is reminiscent of graphic novels such as 'Sin City' with black & white aesthetic that contains splashes of colour. There is a twist too at the end and I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of that. Plus, we planted a tiny Easter egg from 'A Hint of Pink' for those who like to search for those kinds of details.
TSWS: What's next for you as an artist?
Well, I have quite a few songs composed and having started this incredible collaboration with a worldwide group of artists, we'll be delving deep into their storyworlds slowly over time. For this year, we plan to release two more songs with their respective animations. Another exciting thing is that we started filming live versions too. The first one is a live session for 'Wandering' filmed at Club DIM in Belgrade - a very industrial underground bar location in the city that has a very aesthetic vibe that went really well with the track. I've arranged this live version for a string quartet and jazz ensemble - the video is coming out on 4th June:
Another perhaps even more exciting live session will be for 'A Hint of Pink', which we will film in just a few weeks at the historical Roman site Felix Romuliana. I've done a special arrangement for it for more than ten musicians and it's very different from the original, so it will be a kind of Felix Romuliana edition with an even more rustic and Balkan-like vibe. Final thing I would mention are the dance videos we have planned. For the first one, I've asked my dancer friends to improvise on the spoken word version of 'A Hint of Pink', which ended up being a very experimental video, as each dancer filmed themselves during lockdown:
For 'Wandering', we'd love to try a Pina Bausch-like aesthetic with a remix of the song.
TSWS: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
Good question, haha. Because at the moment, music and all the surrounding audiovisual material have really overtaken my life! But I relax by going on long walks with my dog, doing some online dance/acting classes (not the same as live ones due to the pandemic, but oh well...), and spending time with my family and friends. One thing I am missing at the moment is painting, I hope to get back to it.
TSWS: Who are you listening to right now?
I recently discovered Ghostride by Crumb in a scene from HBO Max's Hacks and have been literally obsessed by this song! Then I love artists like St. Vincent, Mitski, Daughter and Hozier, so I always love to play a track or two from them. Though my taste is very eclectic, depending on how I feel I might go from electro swing, trip-hop, folk, pop, rock and jazz all the way to classical music and even musicals. I guess it really depends on the moment, haha. I guess that might explain why I shift genres in my own work too.
TSWS: With things getting better out there, will you be planning on any live performances?
Yes, definitely! With the pandemic at the moment we've only managed to organise the filmed live performances without an audience, but I hope once it's appropriate that I'd get to really enjoy that experience and connect with people on stage.
TSWS: How do you write your songs? Is it lyrics first, production? How does it work for you?
It really depends. For me the initial inspiration comes in all forms and as I have a bit of synesthesia, there are times when it comes in the form of colour, smell or other sensations and not just sounds or words. And perhaps 'A Hint of Pink' attests to that, whereby the music is almost a translation of another kind of feeling/impulse. When it comes to songwriting itself though, I usually tend to improvise on a piano, guitar and another instrument, then let the music/words themselves lead me through the process. I am very much writing the songs, as much as they are writing me, haha. After I have a solo version I am happy with, the final phase though would be the production, where I tend to be a bit more methodical in terms of searching for a precise timbre and instrumental combinations that could enliven and highlight certain elements in the musical material and the lyrics.
TSWS: You wake up in the middle of the night starving. What's your go-to midnight snack> (a question of character)
A piece of chocolate - like many girls, I'm guilty of chocoholism, haha.